The following editorial is written by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today
KNOXVILLE, TN- As leftists across the country call for defunding the police, one area where some have called for elimination of police officers is in schools.
One of the leading loudmouths arguing for the removal of school resource officers is Connecticut’s contribution to the litany of brain-dead Washington politicians, Sen. Chris Murphy.
Last July, Murphy, one of the more useless members of the Senate who for some reason still finds himself being a regular guest on leftist “news” outlets such as MSNBC, introduced legislation that would remove school resource officers from schools and replace them with counselors.
“Tens of thousands of kids are arrested at school every single year and a disproportionate number of these students are black and Latino,” Murphy said as reported by WFSB TV in Hartford, Connecticut.
Typically, Murphy ignores statistics which show that blacks and Hispanics offend at a higher rate than whites. That doesn’t matter to an opportunist ignoramus like Murphy.
What is truly ironic about Murphy’s call for the elimination of SROs is that the most horrific school shooting in American history occurred in Murphy’s home state of Connecticut, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on December 14, 2012.
In that incident, a 20-year-old madman shot and killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders and six adult staff members, this after he had killed his mother at home.
Murphy was joined in his press conference by three of the wackiest far-left members of Congress, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).
Clearly had there been a school resource officer stationed at Sandy Hook, numerous lives could have been saved. That fact has been apparently lost on Murphy.
Contrast what Murphy is calling for to the situation that occurred last week in Knoxville, Tennessee, where the presence of a school resource officer likely prevented carnage such was seen at Sandy Hook and more recently at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida a couple of years ago.
This past Monday, April 12 a teenage boy opened fire on police officers inside a school bathroom at around 3:15 p.m. Officers went to the school, Austin-East Magnet High School in response to a report of a student inside a restroom with a gun, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the student started shooting as soon as police officers entered the bathroom, TBI Director David Rausch said initially. That was later clarified and reported that the student’s gun was fired during a struggle with an officer.
That officer, Adam Wilson, who happened to be the school resource officer assigned to that school, was shot in the hip during an exchange of gunfire. The student, 17-years-old was killed in the firefight. He was later identified as Anthony J. Thompson Jr.
The school was locked down and students who were outside the buildings were brought to a baseball field where they were reunited with their parents.
Austin East houses approximately 643 students in grades 7-12.
So, if Chris Murphy had his way, that school resource officer would not have been present in the school when the report came in.
In Knoxville, the incident happened about 15 minutes before the school’s scheduled 3:30 p.m. dismissal time. One can imagine the possible death toll had that officer not been present inside the school when the initial call came in.
According to AdvanceLocal Alabama, officers responded to the bathroom and ordered the student to come out, and when he didn’t exit the bathroom, police entered and the encounter ensued. According to TBI, officers fired twice, and Thompson was killed.
In introducing his legislation last year, Murphy addressed the Sandy Hook massacre in a Facebook post:
“In Connecticut, in the wake of a horrific school shooting, many schools hired police officers to enhance the peace of mind of parents. But now we have plenty of evidence to show that there are far better ways to ensure kids’ safety—and that police officers in schools are contributing to a civil rights crisis that we must address.
“Today I introduced legislation to stop the federal government from funding police in our schools and put more money into hiring the counselors, nurses, social workers and other health professionals that our schools desperately need.”
In Connecticut, in the wake of a horrific school shooting, many schools hired police officers to enhance the peace of…
Ok Smurfy, we’ll play. How do you think the Knoxville incident would have worked out if you sent a school counselor, or a social worker to that restroom?
Do you think this student, who clearly had some type of issues to merely give up the gun and surrender? Maybe. Or maybe not.
Instead of one student armed with a gun dead and an officer wounded, you might have one or two dead school counselors or social workers, along with a bunch of dead students.
Part of the issue with school resource officers inside schools is that they are looked at as the disciplinary arm of the school.
Many school administrators—more interested in showing how kind and understanding they are—view police as their enforcers.
And often times that puts police officers, in this case school resource officers, in the position of having to be the disciplinary arm of the schools.
School resource officers are there for exactly the reason “resource” is in their title. In my career, I acted in the capacity of a school resource officer in an elementary school.
My purpose in being there was to be a resource for students and faculty and also to break down the barriers between police and children.
Often times when police are out in public, parents will come up with their five-year-old and tell the child, “If you don’t listen to me, this officer is going to take you to jail.”
What does that do? It of course instills fear in children, that police are someone that is going to “take you to jail” if you don’t listen to your parents.
By putting school resource officers in school buildings, police were able to interact with the kids as human beings—eating lunch with them, going into their classes and reading to them.
Now clearly in a high school setting (or middle school for that matter), police take on a bit of a different role.
But I have seen numerous times in my career that those relationships that officers are able to build with their students translates into an element of trust where students feel comfortable coming to those officers and reporting things such as child abuse, sexual assault, spousal abuse and so on.
I’ve seen it scores of times.
Murphy said at the time:
“It’s time to get police officers out of our schools. The evidence shows these officers don’t make our schools and (sic) safer. In fact, research has shown [they] can increase physical danger to young people.”
The chief of the Wolcott Police Department in Connecticut, located about 30 minutes from Sandy Hook disagrees. His town has three SROs in the school system, and he heartily endorses the program.
“One function in the school is to protect the students from outsiders coming into the school. That’s the number one function to keeping these children safe,” said Chief Ed Stephens.
He continued, noting as above that police are there to also develop relationships with kids.
“Their function is to build rapport with students. We don’t want children in schools to be afraid of the police, we want to see them as a friend. It’s like the old beat cop in the neighborhood. They’re the beat cops in the schools.”
Dr. Janet Robinson is the superintendent of the Stratford, Connecticut public schools. She also sees the benefit of the SRO programs.
“My way of looking at SROs is let’s show students as they’re growing up that police officers are interested in their well-being,” she said.
Robinson by the way was the superintendent in Newtown when the Sandy Hook shooting took place.
So Murphy, ever the pandering, political opportunist ignores his own constituency in pushing for “progressive”…read that far-left proposals to eliminate SROs while in many cases they have shown their effectiveness in preventing significant loss of life in school shootings.
In the one mass-shooting case where there was an SRO present on campus, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, the SRO, a Broward County deputy was charged with neglect of a child, culpable negligence and perjury, ABC News reported at the time.
In essence, the former deputy, Scot Peterson was a coward and didn’t do his job as police are trained to do.
Many p0int to the fact that Columbine High School had a SRO assigned, however when that shooting began, the officer was off campus. Had he been on campus when the shooting started, the outcome may have been different.
However with that being said, knee-jerk reactions like that of Murphy last year in the name of political pandering are a disservice to his constituents and pose a grave risk to school children. But that is what we’ve come to expect from our clueless, in-over-his-head senator.
And as the recent event in Knoxville shows, the upside of having SROs in the schools certainly outweighs any downside touted by Murphy and the other leftists.
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